- The Washington Times - Monday, June 3, 2002

An anthill on the green, "inner demons," poor club selection, gusts of wind.
The reasons the runners-up faltered late in the final round of the Kemper Open yesterday included all of the above and more, allowing Bob Estes to walk off with the championship after shooting just 1-under par.
With eight holes to play, four players Estes, Rich Beem, Steve Elkington and Bob Burns stood at 10-under par, seemingly setting up a photo finish. Instead, they combined to shoot plus-5 on the final three holes, leaving the door wide open for Estes, the only contender to make par down the stretch.
Beem's failed bid for birdie on No.16 characterized the plight of Burns and Elkington; his attempt was thwarted when he didn't anticipate the backspin of the ball when it hit the green. He made par on the hole, one of several opportunities he missed on the day.
"Pardon my French, but [stuff] happens you know?" Beem said. "There's no rhyme or reason. [My approach on 16] could easily have kicked forward and gotten really close."
Burns' double-bogey on No.16 stands out as the biggest slip-up of the afternoon by any player near the top, but he had company.
Elkington, who played five pairings ahead of third-round leaders Burns and Estes, was at 11 under when he caved in. His tee shot on 17 carried into a bunker, but he punched it out to about 10 feet from the cup before missing his par putt. He didn't explicitly make an excuse for the miss, but he did note there was an anthill right behind his ball.
"Where I really came undone was on 17. I really didn't hit a good shot, and I got a real big gust [of wind] there on the tee that knocked the seven-iron right off the green," Elkington said. "Funny enough, there was an ants' nest right behind my ball on the green, ants pouring out of it. There were ants everywhere."
Beem's problems weren't tangible; he said they were "inner demons me trying not to puke on my shoes." Beem's demons surfaced with bogeys on 13 and 17, where he was hoping to get some help from Justin Leonard and Kirk Triplett, the pair ahead of him.
"I got a little overanxious, tried to throw it straight up in the air and have it land soft," Beem said. "I was paying attention to Justin and Kirk to see what happened when their ball hit the green. Unfortunately, neither of them did, so I didn't see how the ball reacted.
"So I took it into account just like they were at every other hole, got overaggressive, just pulled it and that's all she wrote."
Burns got overaggressive on the 16th, when his second shot bounced and rolled over the green, down a slope and right onto a drain grate a place Beem called the "valley of sin." After taking a drop, Burns was still stuck with a shot that was neither a clean putt or chip, so he used a putter to get the ball to the top of the hill. From there he missed two putts, including a 4-footer.
"That might have been a bad decision to putt that ball," Burns said, "but I couldn't really come up with anything else to do. I never hit it hard enough, obviously."
On the final hole, Beem barely missed chipping in for birdie from 25 feet on the fringe, a shot that would have tied him with Estes. Instead he headed to the putting green to stay loose, then returned to the 18th green to watch Estes, hoping to get a chance in a playoff.
While there was substantial focus on the leaders' mistakes on holes 16 through 18, the real missed opportunities came on No.13. The par-five 524-yard hole rated the easiest of the tournament, but yesterday Beem and Elkington bogeyed it, while Estes and Burns settled for par.
"It probably wasn't the first time this week I've had tremendous difficulty with the speed of these greens," Burns said of his three-putt on No.13. "Obviously if I two-putt that one and probably put my two best shots of the back nine together on 16 "
A birdie on No.13 would have given Burns a lead of two strokes over Estes and three over Beem and Elkington at 12 under. Instead, he stayed at 11 under, and the foursome all stood at that after 15 holes.


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